UNICEF Bulgaria raised a giant hot air balloon in the sky above the city of Sofia to advocate for child rights

04.04.2015 15:18

 

The colorful attraction was a part of a campaign aimed at promoting child participation 

4 April 2015.  The United Nations Children’s Fundconducted a unique event for Bulgaria. A huge hot air balloon with the size of an 8-storey high building was raised above the capital’s “Yujen Park” (South Park). Along with the raising of the gigantic attraction, UNICEF symbolically “raised” the voice of children and the youth as well. Thus, the organization made visible to society right of the young generation to express freely their opinion on all topics that concern them directly or indirectly. The idea behind it was to have the adults hear children’s voices and acknowledge their stance when making decisions that concern children’s lives and wellbeing.

Among the attendees, there were children of different age or social groups, with different skills and of different ethnicity – pupils, refugee children, children with disabilities, young talented performers. They had the unique opportunity to learn more about each other and about their rights, while having fun at the same time. For that purpose a first of its kind flash-mob was staged, where children and young people performed contemporary dance, sang modern songs, took group pictures of themselves and were filmed by a drone (unmanned aircraft) from above while having fun – at the same time, sharing their messages with the adults. Everybody had the possibility to share (write down) on a huge white canvas their dreams, aspirations, worries or fears. Those messages will reach politicians, parents, teachers, social workers, magistrates. etc., and will as well fly to different parts of the world where they could be shared with other children.

About the balloon:    
The world project “Flying high for kids” is the first of its kind.  It is an initiative with an ideal purpose, and is supported by UNICEF. The project was launched at the end of 2013 and is to travel the world for 4 years. During that time, it is going to pass through 100 countries. The idea of the giant balloon is to encourage children to dream; to raise awareness about their rights; to foster their integration as a main value in society; to create ground for activities and education. The project aims to bring about solidarity – between children from different groups, as well as among children from different countries and between adults and children. Bulgaria is the first European stop for the balloon. Learn more about it here: http://flyinghighforkids.com/

About the “My voice Matters” campaign:

In March, UNICEF Bulgaria launched its informational and social campaign “My voice Matters”, dedicated to the right of child participation. The first stage of the campaign includes consultations with children of different age, various social status or ethnic origin. They have the opportunity to fill in a questionnaire until April 10th here: www.unicef.bg/glas. The questionnaire aims to gather children and youth’s insights on issues and topics which are relevant and important to them. Their stance will be taken into consideration by the Government of Bulgaria and the National Assembly when they update the National Strategy for the Child (2008- 2018) later this year. The other main component of the campaign is directed not only towards children but rather towards the adults – UNICEF strives to change public perceptions regarding the right to child participation.

About the right to child participation:    
The right to child participation represents the informed and voluntary participation of children – this encompasses children from marginalized groups, children of different age and with different abilities – in all topics that affect them directly or indirectly. Child participation is guaranteed by international legislation and is a right that all children have – on an individual and group level.  On an individual level, children have the right to be heard out, to have their opinion acknowledged whenever adults (parents, relatives, teachers, doctors, judges and other specialists) make decisions that concern them. On a group level, children are entitled to be given the opportunity to influence decisions that are made in society – at school, local administration, service providers, civic organizations or the Government.

Why child participation is important:
Here are the good results that the right of children to freely express their opinion on important issues bring about:

About children’s rights and adults’ responsibilities:
The right of children to be heard out is regulated by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is the most widely ratified international treaty in the history of human rights, and gives children a unique social and legal status that acknowledges that regardless of the fact that children do not possess full autonomy before 18 years of age, they are entitled to a full set of rights. This acknowledgement brings about specific responsibilities that adults should account for when it comes to children: they are required to guarantee adequate protection and to act in the child’s best interest – but along with that they also need to guarantee that there is time, space and opportunity for children themselves to express their own opinions which are to be taken into consideration when decisions and actions for children\s wellbeing are made.

About UNICEF:   
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

For more information:  
Ivaylo Spasov, Communication Consultant, UNICEF Bulgaria    |
Mobile: +359  888 40 63 83, Email: ispasov@unicef.org 

 

My voice matters

28.04.2015 in Projects

In March 2015 UNICEF Bulgaria launched an informational and social campaign dedicated to the right to child ...

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone. And we never give up.